Publishing Update

20 12 2022

Working with my publisher for Noble Fusion Press, Barbara E. Hill, on prioritization. Three novels in the next year (totaling 230K words) requires spinning many, many plates. You’ve already noticed my increased bog posts, and I appreciate your attention. There is a lot of other stuff:

She is handling: Cover art creation, coordinating line edits, release schedule, Advance Reader Copies (ARCs), marketing, getting blurbs.

Me am handling: staying out of her way, being helpful, final polish of drafts, being charrrrmiiiingggg.

I have done the last polishes of the new edition of “Flesh Sutra” and of “Saints of Flesh”. I sent my terribly fumbled e-mail list to her with the intent of now *actually sending out newsletters as promised years ago*. I am lining up many people to receive ARCs to review on Amazon and Goodreads etc.

Release for new “Flesh Sutra” in first half of 2023, “Saints of Flesh” in the second half, and my fantasy fiction opus “Fazgood etc.” to be determined.

“But Tim! How is your life going?”

New job stocking shelves at a Maritime Themed Grocery Chain is strenuous, but going well. I seem to have caught a mild cold and am a bit tired. My annual check-up told me triglycerides UP but not diabetic, cholesterol DOWN to acceptability, and I am to schedule a cardio-stress test.

Everything else? Holidays are the usual grab bag of awkwardness. I enjoy the people I know and try hard to keep myself comfortable.

This is what’s going on and I’ll keep you posted.





First Steps Toward Publishing

4 12 2022

I have been submitting stories for publication since October of 1989. Ever since then, it has been an education. How to write. How to conduct oneself professionally. How to promote. How to maintain work/life balance. Most important, why am I doing this?

I do this because am a schmarty-pants who is pretty funny and who is pretty damn morbid. People like schmarties, funny people, and they have turns of morbidity. I have a niche and am finding a community.

So! Self-publishing! How’s that going? As a refresher, I am publishing three novels which encompass most of my long-form writing since 1999. The books total 250,000 words.

My publisher Barbara E. Hill has found an illustrator and cool cover art for my fantasy novel. She is a writer and marketing professional. I’ll be mentioning her a lot from now on because she is a great writer and deserves recognition.

I have proofread the three books and formatted them for e-publication. During the proofreading, I kept getting swept up in the plots, laughing at the characters’ wit, and being moved by their voices. Like most artists, I am super critical of my own work. During the proofreading, though, I realized something my friends had been telling me for years: these are good books!

The saying goes “you dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” If you want to be a self-sustaining professional, do what the self-sustaining professionals do. So here’s my Linktree page, which brings all my social media links together. Solid first step here.

linktr.ee/timwburke

Starting today, I will be paying more attention to clicks. I’ve tweaked my content on this site just a little (everyone seems to like posts about process, and I am happy to oblige). I’ve tried to maintain posting entertaining videos on YouTube and TikTok, but its tough to overcome my reticence and lack of ideas. Those may become more writing-oriented as well.

This is still the exciting part. The frustrating parts will be promoting, marketing, and maintaining the retail end. At this point, I am keeping my goals simple: if I can take myself out to dinner once in a while and still enjoy writing, then I’m good with this.

I’ll keep you posted.





Wonderful News! I’m Publishing Again!

29 11 2022

How long! So long! It’s been so long since I’ve said “My novel ‘The Flesh Sutra’ made the preliminary ballot for the 2014 Stoker Awards!” I’m bringing back into ebook and print with my publisher Barbara E. Hill of Noble Fusion Press.

It shall be the third edition! The new edition will have changes incorporated which will lead into the sequel. Yes, the sequel!

I’ll walk you through the process of getting this book up and going, then all the subsequent books.

Also, didja know I wrote a campy fantasy caper novel many years ago? I put it up on this website years ago, but have since revised it. My writer friends have been enthused about that book for years and finally, guess what?

Publishing it! With Barbara E. Hill from Noble Fusion!

This is the most excited I’ve been in many moons. And I’m glad you’re here to share it. Hell, I know most of you personally, and those I don’t know have been regular visitors.

I can devote more time to this, for the time being, seeing as I am not working. I have applied for unemployment and have a financial buffer. I have cheap chain coffee places to make my office. I am working with a motivated, experienced marketing person.

I am excited that you get to be a part of this.





Four More Days! Audio Book In The Works!

5 10 2018

I’ll be releasing an audio book of “Fishtown Blood Bath: Lampreyhead Book One” next year.

In the meantime, you can read it for free starting Tuesday for a limited time! Or you can read it now with your Kindle Unlimited account. Its 33K words of quirky, bloodthirsty action. Click on the cover to learn more.

Book-1-Fishtown-Pback





Who Wants A Free Kindle Book? “Clive Barker Directed By Terry Gilliam”

3 10 2018

IN JUST SIX DAYS, you can download a free Kindle book of “Fishtown Blood Bath: Lampreyhead Book One”. A beta reader described it as “Clive Barker directed by Terry Gilliam”.

Imagine Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” series directed by the guy who did the animation for Monty Python. The mind, it is to boggle.

So yeah, I’m pretty proud of this work and I know you will enjoy the Hell out of it.

The countdown is on! Set your calendars and do not miss this new vision in Horror Comedy!

Book-1-Fishtown-Pback





Writers: Packaging Your Work For Sale Through Amazon, Or “It Costs HOW MUCH?”

28 09 2018

Back when I produced a couple of movies, producers spent half their total budget on box art (yes, box art. It was VHS, then DVD). Design caught the eye and made promises about content. The slicker the design, the higher the expectation about the movie’s overall content. Back then, I learned three things:

  • Do not hire friends to do your art. It’s awkward when they screw up and you have to yell at them or threaten to sue.
  • Do not do it yourself. That will add months to your goal as you learn the software and research design basics.
  • It is worth saving up money to hire an experienced professional.

Through the writing of the Lampreyhead series, I listened to podcasts about self-publishing. Lindsey Buroker suggested hacking the cover designs of bestsellers. I did so and found the popular colors, fonts, elements, and compositions. I opened an account on 99Designs and put up my information.

I thought of Lampreyhead as being a Terry Gilliam satire of Paranormal Romance. Then I spoke with my writers’ group and found that no, Lampreyhead was much darker even than Terry Gilliam. I had first wanted a spoof cover much like Ash from “Evil Dead” with weapon held high, but I was told the series is a bit too grim for that.

Okay, from art design I already knew that all characters needed distinctive silhouettes. Harry Potter is slight with a wand, Harry Dresden had his gun and hat, Anita Blake had great hair, etc. Ned lived in his hoodie and cargo shorts, so he already had a distinctive figure. Based on my research into covers, I concluded I needed rich purples, reds, and golds. I needed a silver metallic font with serifs. Bare abs attracted attention while still being true to Ned’s vocation.

Artists submitted spec designs and I took them to my friends on Facebook. One design stood out, a design I wouldn’t have considered. Instead of a strong pose, Ned looked dead at the viewer. This struck my friends as arresting and moody, so I approved it.

Beware 99Designs. It takes a 30% cut of what you pay the artists. So when I had a regrettably long “oh could you add this” list, I became more trouble than I was worth, and the artist didn’t return my emails for Covers 2 and 3. I do not blame her. She did a great job.

She did send me Photoshop documents of the cover, so I got an artist from my on-line writers group to modify Cover One to make Covers Two and Three. There was a communication glitch and I did not get all the changes I had wanted, but the price was great.

By this time, I was hearing from podcasts that most authors did basics on Photoshop and made their own covers. I bought Photoshop Elements and cropped to make the three Kindle covers.

Total cost so far: $1200.

Advertising is going to add to this outlay.

I will probably have to pay a web designer to make a new home page. I need an aggressive email sign-up drop and WordPress sites don’t seem to do that.

So…I’ll have some info about that next week. We’ll learn together.





Writers: Editing The “Lampreyhead” Series

27 09 2018

I always saw Thomas Hayden Church as Ned “Lampreyhead” Winter.thom-church-int

 

As I’ve stated before, writing beginnings and endings is fun, but connecting them is The Long Night Of The Soul. Book One went reasonably well because I’d had months to mush an outline around in my head. I wrote Book Two in the middle of a Mid-Atlantic winter and between the cold dark and a lack of outline, I had a slight melt-down over the frustration. An old friend from high school, Randy, basically said “get over yourself”, which gave me the kick in the butt to complete that draft. I outlined more thoroughly for Book Three, so with the  confidence gained from Book Two and sensing the finish line I typed “END” on the three books at 90K words in about ten months. Not the output I would have liked, but 8K words a month is a personal best.

I submitted Book One to my face-to-face writers’ group. They pointed out my usual issues with weak verbs and skipping details. I discovered that I write with an audiobook in mind, so I kept attributing thoughts to distinguish them from narration. The “he thought” attributions became tedious. Chuck Pahluhnik challenges his students to write without any attributions at all, least of all internal ones like thought, considered, pondered, etc. I deleted those and wow, what a difference.

I have not established an editing method, so I piecemeal at this point. What I do:

·         Replace spoken attributions (said, shouted, etc) with physicality.

·         Include smells and textures because most writers skip those, and for me those senses bring me into the story faster. I think Elmore Leonard liked three sensory details per page. If your style is lusher, then add details as needed.

·         Proof the character voices. I cast friends and actors to play roles when I write. This helps keep voices and behaviors believable. The protagonist Ned is a challenge. How would a centuries-old, multi-lingual, blue-collar wuss speak? What analogies or cultural references would he use?

·         Modify descriptions to highlight moods.

My writers’ group prioritizes artfulness and emotional depth. One member described Lampreyhead as “a romp”. Which works for me. I have no expectations beyond basically entertaining the reader. By Book Three, I presented the draft to only one member, because he was faster and I think he “got” what I’m trying to do.

He is also a veteran of Odyssey, Clarion, and James Gunn’s Workshops. He is very good at not only finding problems, but proposing solutions.

I keep a file with continuity information. The names and formula for the vampire prototypes are in there, as are magic words. I may need an excel spreadsheet in time or to actually use the Scrivener I bought.

That’s right. I did all this in Word. Three or four characters per book at 30K words, so I didn’t really need anything complicated.

So what did I learn?

  • Outline.
  • Keep encouraging people near by.
  • Tailor your expectations to your capabilities.
  • Trust that next time *it will be easier*.

That was editing. While editing, I went to 99Designs and found a cover artist. I’ll describe the packaging process next time.

 





Writers: Maybe *This* Is Why You Don’t Like Self-Promotion…And A Solution.

20 06 2018

And THIS is one of the biggest reasons that introvert writers struggle with marketing. Not because we’re “shy.” It goes so far beyond that.

and a plan of action

The Introvert’s Guide to Launching a Book





Lessons From The 2018 Nebula Conference With Links To Resources

21 05 2018

nebula logo

I went to Pittsburgh last Thursday to watch my good friend Dr. Lawrence Schoen get his chance at a Nebula. This is his nominated book.

Being twice nominated, he had a lot of meetings about editorial and collaborative opportunities. This is what conventions are all about for professionals.

Meanwhile, I as an aspiring professional and Growing Concern went to panels to learn about the biz. Here are my notes:

From a panel about Facebook ads, from experienced Facebook advertisers:

  • Cover images! Spaceships or dragons, period. When possible, use food related images for your cover. Food provokes better click rate. I know, right?
  • On the flip side of that, use vampires where possible. Okay, working on that right now.
  • Start small with FB ads and increase where successful. How small? $5 SMALL. This is a relief because my savings took a beating this weekend.
  • As in all things, There Is A BOOK:  “Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!” by Michael Cooper. This book was recommended by Lindsay Buroker on her podcast, too. I’ll be getting this one.

 

From a panel on e-publishing:

  • When publishing your e-book, put in a link for readers to subscribe to your mailing list and receive free material related to that book. Put in that link at the beginning at at the end of the book. Cool! Can do!
  • When readers click the link, they will land on a page asking something like “Would you like to receive materials from me?” There will be a check box. That check box MUST BE AN OPT-IN. They have to click to receive. This is part of those new European internet regulations.

Do you know about Draft2Digital? They are a publishing and promotion platform. Check them out. I’m intrigued.

Have you used Beatsheetcalculator.com? I was developing calculations on where plot beats should fall based on page percentages. Of course, someone else has done it first. It even incorporates the Dent Pulp Formula and the Hero’s Journey.

Last, when writing a series, make all books stand alone. No cliffhangers. I knew this, but it was good go have this reinforced by a panel including series maven Laura Anne Gilman.

Sadly, Lawrence did not win. However, his competition were all from Big Five publishers. My small publisher Noble Fusion Press got Lawrence onto the ballot TWICE. Good work supported by promotion gets results.

Was the convention worth it for me? I had some good moments. A series I’ve begun was well received at a Kickstarter Seminar. Did you know Kickstarter provides guidance on optimizing your campaign? This response did warm my enthusiasm.

The cost, though! I spent enough to set up a book. I was in the middle of a slump, though, and now I’ve got new wind. Maybe I could have gotten that new wind at the upcoming local Balticon at about 10% of the cost.

Anyway, if I remember anything else, I’ll let you know.

Keep writing!

 





First Draft Done, What I Have Learned, and Publishing Coaches

30 11 2017

This will be  my usual post about writing, terse yet rambling, with some sundry crits at the end of movies and writers who have caught my brain.

doggo

So! Finished with draft one of Lampreyhead at 25K words. The world building was fun. The story is set in contemporary Philadelphia because I know the Northeast US well. Religious aspects appeared, were inevitable really, which added a whole new layer to the characters and conflict. The jokes are good. There may be one darling, but we’ll see if it survives (the “moist” joke I posted on my FB three weeks ago.)

How did I write the draft and what did I learn? I did a bit of an outline, but it was way too spare. I discovered a good way to outline a few weeks ago, but I also discovered that very few writers enjoy writing outlines or synopsis.  New method for outlining is like the Snowflake Method of writing novels: one line summary of each chapter, then add three lines to each summary, then add three more lines to each of those lines, etc. I’ll try to do that next time.

So, with what I thought was an adequate outline, I used Rachel Aaron’s method of speed writing, so I wrote the fun scenes first and backfilled the remainder of the plot. Writing the filler was not only a bit tedious, it exposed the gaps in my outline. Writing the draft took longer than it needed to, but this is how we learn.

I had a tough time getting a grip on the protagonist. I had behavior for scenes, I had previous short stories, but I didn’t have a deeper character profile that could support this work.

I kept his nerdiness and built around that. I considered that LH was 700 years old and that he would be a little bored. Being made Evil, he knew there is a God because religious items caused injury. However, I had him go 700 years without knowing who made him or why. His problem became the reverse of Mortality: is there a Satan to justify his existence?

Supporting characters fulfilled their functions, but they need more depth in the second draft. He meets the werewolf who will be a recurring character in the series, but the were doesn’t have a lot of agency. The Mortal in this story (needed to help bring out the supernatural world-building) became a sophisticated businesswoman thrill-seeker; can I pull off this complicated character?

I was hoping to market this series as “Erotic Paranormal”, but I have no experience in writing erotica. Besides, the plot only has one valid erotic scene. I’m now looking at the humor market.

I have to finish the second draft for my writers group, that deadline being Sunday.

I learned about Publishing Coaches on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. My research has provided a couple of names and I will be contacting them tonight.

Recent discoveries: the movie “The Devil’s Candy” is a pleasant throwback haunted house horror that’s well made. “The Midnight Meat Train” squandered a great production on a weak Clive Barker story. “Cult of Chucky” still camps it up, but keep an eye on Fionna Dorrif, because she is excellent. Belgian horror “Raw” takes your unsettling French moodiness to a college for veteranarians, but worry not, the animals are safe from the cannibal sisters. “Demonic” takes ghost hunters to a haunted house, but even Maria Bello can’t save us from a flat ending.

 








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